Is Brexit coming?
Today, Thursday, the British will vote on leaving or staying in the EU. The result is still completely open at the moment. It is just as uncertain - should a majority on the island ultimately decide to turn their backs on the continent - how this would affect the close trade ties between Great Britain and Germany.
The water sports industry is also facing uncertain times. Although this is only a comparatively small branch of the economy, a lot is at stake here as there for the companies concerned - shipyards, equipment suppliers and service providers.
In 2015, according to the Federal Association of the Water Sports Industry (BVWW), 352 boats and yachts worth around 18.8 million euros were delivered from the island to Germany. Conversely, local shipyards sold 271 yachts worth around 23.2 million euros to England.
Measured against total boat imports in this country, the share of imports from England is only 15 percent and the share of exports in the total export volume of German pleasure craft shipyards is only around ten percent. But even these ten percent would hurt the companies if they fell victim to drastically deteriorating exchange rates, punitive tariffs or similar foreclosure measures, in whole or in part.
Expensive fun. Anyone who wants to buy a boat from England could have to dig deeper into their pockets in the event of a Brexit
Jürgen Tracht, managing director of BVWW, recently exercised optimism towards YACHT: "What is certain is that the British economy would be much more affected than that of the other EU member states. This makes a Brexit very unlikely." Tomorrow at the latest will show whether he is right with his assessment.
The yacht charter industry is relatively relaxed about the vote - albeit for a different reason: Great Britain as a sailing holiday region plays almost no role for German charter companies or German charter agencies.
"In this respect, there will be no immediate changes after a Brexit that we would have to adjust to," says CatharinFalk, managing director of the Association of German Yacht Charter Companies. However, according to Falk, it would be problematic if countries that are more important for the charter market, such as Greece or Spain, followed England as an example and also left the EU.
Farewell to freedom of travel. Trips to England, here Fowey in Cornwall, could be accompanied by a lot of bureaucracy in the event of a Brexit
For cruising sailors who want to set course for Great Britain in the future, however, a Brexit would probably not be without consequences. "Until now, crews from EU countries did not have to declare in or out in England," explains Jürgen Feyerabend, head of the cruiser department of the German Sailing Association. This is exactly what could be over quickly if the worst came to the worst. Every trip to London, Scotland or southern England would then be associated with time-consuming administrative procedures and paperwork.
Boat buyers could also be left out. Anyone who is toying with a yacht made in Great Britain these days should expect that they will soon have to dig deeper into their pockets than they do now. Be it because, as a result of a Brexit, a drastic rise in inflation would cause the general price level in England to skyrocket. Or because the EU may impose high tariffs on all imports from England in the future.